ISLAMABAD, 10 February, 2020: Laying the Torture, Custodial Death and Custodial Sexual Violence (Prevention and Punishment) Act, 2019, PPP Parliamentary Leader in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman said, “In the recent one or two years, we have increasingly witnessed cases of police torturing those in their custody. Their treatment has been so barbaric that it has resulted in the death of many victims. Some names, like Salahuddin Ayubi and Amir Masih’s stand out for the amount of media coverage they received but there are several others.”
Rehman said, “Absurdly, reports even surfaced that Punjab police had been running torture cells privately. One victim, Amjad Ali, was brought in for interrogation and tortured in such a cell in Lahore which was located inside the building of the forest department. There are many such cases including women and children too. Just in the last year, 52 people have been recorded dead in police custody due to the heinous torture inflicted on them”.
She added, “Therefore, with this Bill, we have sought to define torture and acts that constitute torture including custodial death and custodial sexual violence. This bill brings the domestic laws of our state in conformity with the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) which Pakistan is a signatory to and ratified back in 2010. It does so by clearly defining the bounds of torture and prescribes punishments for violators. Currently, there are no Pakistan Penal Code provisions that criminalise torture, however, Article 14 (2) of the Constitution of Pakistan prohibits torture in custody, stating very clearly that “No person shall be subjected to torture for the purpose of extracting evidence”, so this Bill addresses that”.
“We are very clear that penalties must be imposed as a punishment for torture. The Bill specifies punishment of a term not less than three years and fine of one million. It also lays out a basic investigative procedure. Such a Bill would be in the greater interest of our brave police force which risks disrepute due to the acts of a few black sheep. I hope that this Bill would be dicussed in human rights committees and laid in the National Assembly without delay, unlike my Child Marriage Bill which sailed through the Senate but is stuck in the National Assembly for nearly ten months now,” she concluded.